Oddly enough, most of my Farrah Fawcett memories are associated with her head. Does anyone else remember those rather strange (and perhaps somewhat disturbing, depending upon one’s perspective) female celebrity head toys, available in the late 1970s and into the 1980s? As I recall, these were life-sized rubber heads with voluminous hair, mounted upon pastel pedestals and accompanied with such accoutrements as a small makeup kit and hot rollers for curling the hair. They were somewhat akin to those beauty school models for hairstylists to practice upon, except they more geared towards little girls experimenting with female primping and beautification. I’ll restrain myself from delving into the troubling implications of the gender assumptions associated with such a toy. For now, let’s just say that when I was a young girl, my little sister and I each had one of these toy heads-one of which was Cher and one of which was Farrah Fawcett.
My memory of this head was unexpectedly jogged just last year when I was visiting some friends, one of whom suddenly escorted me into another room to partake of an unusual piece of art he had on display. I was peculiarly flabbergasted yet weirdly delighted to discover that this piece of art basically consisted of a framed wall hanging with various specimens behind glass, but these specimens weren’t butterflies or anything of the sort; they weren’t any kind of natural artifacts at all. They were row after row of little Farrah Fawcett heads (about the size of Barbie doll heads and obviously culled from a variety of Farrah Fawcett dolls that were similar to Barbie dolls), all very alike, yet not entirely identical, due to slight variations in skin tone and other features. That is, some were a little more tan than others. Not fine art so much as kitschy collectible décor with pop culture appeal, that appeal was pretty great nonetheless, in large part because Farrah Fawcett is such a legendary icon of popular culture.
I was a little too young to be an avid viewer of ‘Charlie’s Angels’, but here’s another amusing pop culture tidbit and Farrah Fawcett memory. There is an approximately seven year age difference between my husband and me, with him being the older of us. Since we’re both adults, we don’t spend much time thinking about or even particularly noticing this age difference, but every once in a while, when we get into a conversation about our childhoods and certain pop culture referents come up, the age difference will suddenly become front and center. One such conversation involved him revealing to me how he had such a big crush on ‘Charlie’s Angels’ era Farrah Fawcett and me thinking wasn’t he a little young to have a big crush on anyone back then? Then he suggested that the year was probably 1972 and he was seven. Well, 1972 was the year I was born and not until near the end of that year. I couldn’t help but think about how strange it was that he was crushing out over a blonde bombshell while I was just an infant or maybe not even born yet.
Of course, none of these quirky tongue-in-cheek recollections are meant to suggest that Farrah Fawcett had nothing to offer but superficial fluff. In addition to her iconic pop culture status and celebrated good looks, she seemed to be a genuinely kind and caring person who deeply valued the bonds of her family and longtime interpersonal relationships. Her untimely death to cancer is truly sad, but her bravery in choosing to document her painful personal struggle in order to help raise awareness is commendable to me. Perhaps she had an impulse to raise awareness for and give voice to painful struggles in general, because after ‘Charlie’s Angels’, she made the bold career choice to star in ‘The Burning Bed’, a movie based on a woman who suffers severe domestic abuse. Although I’ve not viewed that movie in years and can’t say for sure how I’d feel about it now, I definitely remember it having quite an impact on me when I saw it as a kid. It opened my eyes to certain less than ideal realties and I think that kind of awareness is quite important at any age.